M104 – Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy (also known as Messier Object 104, M104 or NGC 4594) is a peculiar galaxy of unclear classification in the constellation borders of Virgo and Corvus, being about 9.55 megaparsecs (31.1 million light-years) from our galaxy, within the local supercluster. It has a diameter of approximately 15 kiloparsecs (49,000 light-years), three-tenths the size of the Milky Way. It has a bright nucleus, an unusually large central bulge, and a prominent dust lane in its outer disk, which is viewed almost edge-on. The dark dust lane and the bulge give it the appearance of a sombrero hat. Astronomers initially thought the halo was small and light, indicative of a spiral galaxy; but the Spitzer Space Telescope found that the dust ring was larger and more massive than previously thought, indicative of a giant elliptical galaxy. The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of +8.0, making it easily visible with amateur telescopes, and is considered by some authors to be the galaxy with the highest absolute magnitude within a radius of 10 megaparsecs of the Milky Way. Its large bulge, central supermassive black hole, and dust lane all attract the attention of professional astronomers.

This item in the following portfolios: